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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

EXISTENTIALISM   AND   SURREALISM               461

of the symbolic state of being out of time and space is reminiscent
of Ernst Jiinger's Auf den Marmorklippen and Heliopolis. Equally
close to Kafka is Kasack's Der Webstuhl (1949), again a visualiza-
tion of the mechanized hell of the totalitarian State, which by the
laws of its being necessarily disintegrates. What is described is the
weaving of a carpet in which a country's life is centred. Originally
the carpet was a symbol of ritual; but with the course of time the
symbol has faded, and all that remains is mechanical repetition.
Machines replace handlooms, production is intensified, and the
carpet spreads and spreads until an explosion destroys all the looms
and saves the threatened land from suffocation. The symbol in its
total sense is that of the evolution of a State ~ or of religion - or
of mankind. A third novel, Dasgrosse Net% (1952), is again a symbol
of an Unseen Power; this shoots a film in which mankind, as the
pictures turn, is shown as regimented, mechanized, and dehuman-
ized by the planned economy gone mad of the world of today -
we know the pattern from Aldous Huxley's more dynamic Brave
New World. Kasack is also a dramatist: Die tragische Sendung (1920);
Vincent (192.4; the theme is - as in Johann Gunert's poem ILeben
des Malers Vincent van Gogh - the relation to world and time of
Vincent van Gogh); Die Schwester (i 926). His lyric verse is collected
in Das ewige Dasein (1943).

There is again a ghostly and twilight atmosphere superimposed
on realism in the work of ERNST KREUDER (1903- ) in his short
stories Die Nacht der Gefangenen (1939) as in his novels Die Gesell-
schaft vom Dachboden (1946) and Die Unauffindbaren (1948). But, as
he has stated in his essays, his conception of reality is not that of
the gloomiest of his contemporaries who are haunted by the in-
escapability of post-war chaos; on the contrary there is an ordered
reality in the soul of man, and the cosmos is by its very nature
an imposed order that winds its way out of chaos, wherefore the
inwardness of romantic joy in life is justified now and ever. In
agreement with this main concept the substance of Kreudet's
novels is deliberately unrealistic, though they record in symbolic
fashion the reality of experience; for Kreuder true reality has the
pith and marrow of poetry. He is thus at the same time a surrealist
and a neo-romanticist. Die Gesettschaft vom Dachboden was the first
German work of fiction to be translated into English (as The Attic
Pretenders] after the war. It may owe some prompting to G. K.
Chesterton's Manalive (1912). A band of young folk found a secret